ZIONSVILLE – The Colts might not be able to beat Zionsville, as Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano suggested Monday night, if they were to turn the ball over as generously as they have in their 0-2 start. They could however, if they displayed the kind of offensive precision and defensive dominance Hamilton Southeastern did Friday.
The Royals scored on their first five possessions and shut down the Zionsville offense before putting in backups in a 35-21 Hoosier Crossroads Conference win, which wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.
“We knew we couldn’t be the team that lost to Zionsville after coach Pagano made that joke,” said HSE senior quarterback Carter Poiry, who was nearly flawless Friday night, finishing 10-of-11 passing for 207 yards and a touchdown. “We just knew we had to come out hot.”
The Class 6A No. 5 Royals (5-1, 4-0 in the HCC) came out scorching from the moment they claimed possession of the ball after stopping No. 9 Zionsville (3-3, 0-3) on its opening drive, and went on to take a 28-0 first-quarter lead.
“We struggled early on with their physicality up front,” said Zionsville coach Pat Echeverria. “They really just pressured us. We’ve got to be able to win some of the early one-on-one matchups, and we didn’t do that.”
Senior running back Aaron Matio was Mr. Efficiency for the Royals, carrying the ball four times for 34 yards and four touchdowns. Poiry added a 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Max Brooks. Only a missed 34-yard field goal prevented the Royals from scoring on each of their six first-half possessions.
By halftime, HSE had racked up 323 yards, with big plays coming from several weapons on offense. On the night, the Royals finished with 500 yards, as eight players carried the football, and eight receivers caught passes.
“As a defensive guy I think it’s very hard (to defend),” said Royals coach Scott May. “Who are you going to stop? We have a lot of different guys getting the football. We’re getting the ball out, getting it to people in space, and it’s giving us the ability to score points.”
While the Royals were nearly perfect on offense, the HSE defense was equally as potent. In particular was senior defensive end Collin Miller, a 6-4, 250-pounder who wreaked havoc in the Eagles backfield. On one first-quarter series alone, Miller had two tackles for loss, deflected a pair of passes and had three quarterback pressures, including ahit that forced an early interception.
At one point spanning nearly two quarters, the Royals held Zionsville to 16 straight incompletions due to a combination of pressure up front and blanket coverage in the secondary.
“We came out with 11 players that were locked in,” Miller said. “We were getting picks, deflections, sacks, you name it. It was a great team win.”
Zionsville got on the board in the fourth quarter when running back Brenden Mikesell broke loose for touchdown runs of 15 and 75 yards. He finished with 188 yards on 22 carries.
The win was HSE’s 10th straight against Zionsville and puts the unbeaten Royals in firm control of the HCC title hunt with two conference games left and no other HCC team without a loss.
HAMILTON SOUTHEASTERN 35, ZIONSVILLE 21
HSE – Aaron Matio 4 run (Noah Haxton kick)
HSE – Max Brooks 35 pass from Carter Poiry (Haxton kick)
HSE – Matio 7 run (Haxton kick)
HSE – Matio 21 run (Haxton kick)
HSE – Matio 2 run (Haxton kick)
Z – Brenden Mikesell 15 run (Ryan Stein kick)
Z – Mikesell 75 run (Stein kick)
Z – Blake Levy 1 run (Stein kick)
Rushing – Hamilton Southeastern: Goss 13-50, Tsetse 17-92, Michaelis 1-7, Matio 4-34, Poiry 3-11, Lohman 4-25, Collier 9-15, Mullett 1-(-1). Zionsville: Mikesell 22-188, Hodge 2-16, Liechty 5-9, Favors 5-18, Mattingly 4-32, Levy 2-8.
Passing — Hamilton Southeastern: Poiry 10-11-0 207, Mullett 2-3-0 56, Cash 1-1-0 4. Zionsville: Liechty 6-29-1 94, Caldwell Jr. 1-1-0 21, Levy 1-1-0 32.
Receiving — Hamilton Southeastern: Miller 2-14, Michaelis 3-107, Brooks 3-55, Coudret 1-18, Goss 1-22, Matio 1-4, Conrad 1-43, Burns 1-4. Zionsville: Hodge 1-20, Ramsey Jr. 1-23, Mattingly 3-19, Bishop 3-85.